Jyväskylä became not only a merchants’ city, but also a city of artisans. Even when it was just a parish village, there were several practicing artisans, among them hatter Eric Fagerlund, goldsmith Gustaf Weckman, and dyer Fredrik Grek. Soon, word of the newly established city with the right to practice trade began to spread. Among the first to move to the new Jyväskylä were artisans from elsewhere in Finland. The cities artisans had to apply to become burghers. The applicant was to be “above reproach and skilled at their craft”. Eventually artisans made up the majority of Jyväskylä’s citizens.
The route to becoming a craftsman in the young education city was through school, in its own way. An artisan’s career often began at school age, when an apprentice would sign on with as a master’s assistant – usually for a period of four years. After this began the “advanced studies”, where as a journeyman, one could remain under the same master although quite often that journeymen would leave Jyväskylä to spend a year first in Kuopio, then in Oulu, and sometimes even St. Petersburg.
Going into business was not necessarily easy for a young artisan, even for those who had seen the world and had master’s qualifications in their back pockets. Colleagues already established in the city weren’t likely to look upon competitors favorably and the official position of master craftsman could be hard to achieve at all, if ever.
Industrial production of goods was just a dream, and mechanical mass production was quite an unknown concept. This made local handicraft skills important. Hard-working professional craftsmen did their best to serve the needs of the growing city and the surrounding area. Life in the homes of artisans was not extravagant. Often the artisan had a large family and frugality was part of daily life. There were families who had only one other room in addition to their workshop. This was where they lived, slept, and ate. Slightly better off artisans’ homes also had a living room, a bedroom, and a kitchen. The furnishing of some homes followed the current trends of the gentry, although perhaps in a slightly more modest way.
The industrial mechanization and the shift from workshops to factories brought a new era, also to Jyväskylä. Many artisans gave up their trade. The more profitable merchant’s trade was alluring to the sons of many an artisan family. The artisans of Jyväskylä also took advantage of the educational possibilities provided in the city. The ranks of Finland’s clergy and teachers were increased by families of Jyväskylä craftsmen.
All in all, the tradition of craftsmanship has been and still is quite strong in Jyväskylä. This can be seen throughout the history of the city – Jyväskylä is also a city of artisans.